What better way to celebrate Terminator 2: Judgement Day than with an old-fashioned VHS retailers’ promo and the T-1000 hawking his liquid metal soul to chain stores to sell a few copies for consumption?
Oh and we’re throwing a couple of free copies of Drop Dead Fred too and a cheesy sitcom style family to boot. Because that’s how we roll in 1991.
In case you’re new here, VHS retailer promos are my Achilles Heel. It throws back to an era where video stores were the go-to spot for a night in and also gives some insight on the films themselves. Albeit this information was solely usually seen by video chain owners and Mom/Pop shops, thanks to the world-wide web we can now taste what prompted these rental stores to buy movies in copious amounts. Remember walking into Blockbuster and seeing three shelves worth of the same damn new release? These VHS retailer promos may or may not have had something to do with it. I mean, as stated above with free video tapes of Drop Dead Fred how could anyone say no?!
I gotta say, the not so subtle way studios would pimp out their talent to star in these retailer video ads, is goddamn legendary. Horror icons like Chucky and Freddy Krueger saw no shame in this, so why not the T-1000 get on the promo train as well?! The movie being hawked, is of course the 1991 smash Blockbuster, TERMINATOR 2. If you know your VHS retailer history, you’re well aware one video cassette alone could rape your wallet for up to a hundred bucks. Rent out that video at least fifty times and then you get your money back, and then enter your own profits. Now, in an effort to get you to buy as much as you could, perks and bundles were thrown in to convince retailers to buy a bunch of copies for their store. And these types of deals, with their promo swag (I’d literally sell my left arm for those glasses now), was just how it all worked back then. So those bad-ass movie standees’ you’d see at your go-to video store growing up; were very likely a part of a bundle deal such as this.
Now sit back and marvel at what the movie- pimpin’ business used to look like back in the early 90s’.
Welcome, my son! Welcome to the Machine – Pink Floyd
It was a little bit like a sudden lightning bolt breaking across a clear sky, both alarming and awe-inspiring. And there was certainly electricity in the air over a newly formed genre that featured things like chest bursting parasites, cyborg armies, men turning into machines, and creatures from other worlds turning the toughest hombres humanity has to offer into gruesome hunting trophies.
It was the age of dark and gritty sci-fi horror/action films and they were all the rage back during the ’80s and early ’90s. These movies had muscle and teeth.
Thanks to people like James Cameron (Aliens, Terminator 1 and 2) and action stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger (Conan the Barbarian, the Terminator movies, Predator) whose name alone sold tickets, we were given nothing short of a diesel fueled adrenaline punch to the teeth. And we absolutely loved it. We clapped our hands, shoved popcorn in our mouths, and begged for more!
And – according to our movies – machines were the future, as dismal or dystopian as that future may be. And leading the way (to mankind’s eventual downfall no doubt) were two cybernetic heavy weights, both begotten from the violence on our streets and the growing paranoia of The Bomb.
Both films showcased a strange new world to come, and they both quickly won over audiences across the globe . Those movies were Robocop and Terminator.
Strangely enough the films did make a few accurate predictions seeing how today we are entirely dependent on software and machines to get through the day. Let the internet go down for a week and watch what wondrous chaos would ensue!
We may not have cyborg implants just yet, but, as fair example, our cell phones have become entirely an extension of our bodies. As Cronenberg coined the term, ‘long live the new flesh.’
And so our future was predicted in both films. We were all just too naïve to realize it.
Bringing both franchises together
“Role models can be very important to a boy.” – Robocop
Robocop was the long arm of the law while the Terminator was the rebel. One stormed down the riotous streets of Detroit in a cop car while the other thundered across L.A. on a mother fucking Harley!
It was Yin Yang! The two complimented one another like Batman and Joker. Both franchises were jarring glimpses into the future, and weren’t too far separated from one another. It would have been Metal against Metal, a fight for mankind’s future determined in the past. And not to mention both series had incredible soundtracks so could you imagine hearing both scores trumpeting out as these two guys fought? Seriously just gave myself goosebumps.
It just made sense! These two legacies had to crossover!
Goodness sake we had cartoons, action figures, and collectible cards! We wore T-shirts and debated who might win in a fight, Robocop or Terminator.
There was just something ultimately cool about these two film franchises. In our heads, it was only a matter of time before we’d see the two fighting on the big screen.
And then came the biggest cock tease of the fandom. A 4-part comic book was released. Read it loud and say it proud, Robocop vs Terminator became a reality. We held it in our hands. And then the rumors started. They were going to make a movie about it.
Written by the legendary Frank Miller, oh yeah, THAT Frank Miller! The guy responsible for dark and gritty stuff like Sin City and the man who single-handily rescued the Batman comics from life support and made the series (and movies) what they are today. Not to mention he wrote my all-time absolute favorite comic book, The Dark Knight Returns. This guy wrote Robocop vs. Terminator!
Our little minds were splattered all over the walls. We couldn’t contain ourselves. Our heads blew up with the excitement.
I’d Buy That For A Dollar
Answering the fundamental question – considering the end of T2 – how the hell has Skynet survived? Didn’t they destroy every trace possible and annihilate Cyberdine’s eventful future? And this comic does follow the events of T2, releasing nearly a whole year after the film. Fret not because we’re given a very interesting (and acceptable) answer. It’s actually really kickass how it plays out.
The story opens in the present meaning we’re right in the heat of war. The human resistance is nearly hammered into extinction but John Connor has an ace up his sleeve. Learning the secrets of Skynet’s survival the Resistance sends back a lone warrior, Florence Langer, into the past with a name to terminate. That name is Alex Murphy, Robocop himself.
In a sensational twist of events, the humans are sending back a human to terminate a machine. Well, a man with a machine heart but a human soul. And, you guessed it, to counterattack the Resistance’s strategy Skynet sends back a small group of Terminators to defend their forefather.
Yup, you read that right. And it’s only getting started so hang on.
Robocop has one helluva introduction here too. We’re given a POV perspective as he goes from psychotic rapist, murderer, and terrorist blowing them each away in bloody awe and wonder.
He then takes on a local dumbass with a bomb fastened to himself and threatening to waste everyone nearby. Robocop ain’t havening any of this guy’s stupid shit though and grabs the goon only to toss his meaty ass to the moon! The guy explodes up in the sky and Robocop walks away in a glorious shot that would have been a thrilling scene in a movie.
Florence proves her skills as a soldier and builds a make-shift (close enough) plasma gun and hoses down Robocop with it. She’s stark raving mad at this point and blames him for ending the world. She holds him accountable for the death of billions of innocent lives. She’s accusing him of events that haven’t happened yet leaving Murphy in pain and confused.
Wait, let’s talk about Florence. She’s the last surviving soldier sent to infiltrate Skynet’s TDP headquarters. She goes back in time and lands in the busy city streets of Detroit – stark naked I might add. She entirely takes on what Joe Bob Brigg’s calls the ‘Shower Scene’ that promotes vulnerability. That vulnerability is immediately shot in the head though as Florence takes on gawkers and whips a cab driver’s gun out of his hand. Armed and dangerous she takes off to find her target.
Had the movie been made I have to wonder who could have played this strong character.
Anyway, before she can complete her task she’s shot by the three Terminators who’ve been sent back to protect the mind that will awaken Skynet. Despite her attempt to kill him Murphy makes sure Florence gets to a hospital and saves her life. Really Robocop is such a cool hero here.
But that’s how the plot connects both franchises. Robocop is, in many ways, successful artificial intelligence or fusion of man and machine. The very thing Skynet will use to annihilate the human resistance.
Making what John Connor is to humanity Robocop is to the machines. It leaves fans with more than just another ‘wow what a cool story’ but there’s some meat to this beast. There is substance and it’s something that stays with you.
Human life, after all, is about consistently fighting to survive. Machines are doing the same thing now and have their own savior to guide them to a very real future. And they are ready to make sacrifices to ensure their survival just as much as we are.
This also provides Robocop some depth. He does some soul searching to see if it could be possible and if he might have a role in this mysterious future slate. Tapping into some top-tier classified records he learns the plans for Cyberdine and begins learning that the ravings of his would-be assassin are not without reason.
It’s also revealed that Skynet’s future is dependent on Murphy’s brain. The future war is anchored in whether or not the Terminators can reach him before the Resistance has a chance to. So yes, unintentionally Robocop is the father of all Skynet and ensures Judgment Day.
That’s some heavy stuff. The kind only someone like Frank Miller can tell and it still make some sense.
We get to see Robocop take on and defeat two of the three Terminators, which is pretty epic considering how tough T-800s are. Florence escapes from her hospital bed and in total badass fashion destroys the third one.
That doesn’t mean it’s over. Not by a long shot. We’re still getting started and Skynet has more machines to send back to the past.
Along with some breathtaking action we’re treated to some augmented timelines and Robocop dealing with harsh issues like destiny and free will. This article could be a whole review on the 4 issue story. But I’d rather not give away many spoilers because I’d hope our readers would want to go read this nuclear hot comic run for themselves.
But all I’ll say for now is Robocop gets an upgrade and there’s a Robocop army. Woo hoo!!!!
So see how amazing this movie could have been? Just look at that above panel and imagine what that war could have looked like on screen.
It’s nothing short of criminal that we have those stupid Alien vs. Predator movies and not this one.
A series of video games were also released to help promote the idea of the movie. Both Robocop and Terminator have enjoyed their run of cool video games. I mean I loved that Robocop arcade game.
RvT became instantly popular and even for those who didn’t play the games they at least thought it was an infinitely cool idea. The best way to experience the game is the Sega Genesis version btw. It’s big, loud, and violent. Just like the music and movies we loved.
The ground was laid and fans were ready. This could have been the crossover to ensure endless success for our favorite cyborgs, Oh but shit interest in RvT is still going strong. MK11 (2020) introduced both Terminator and Robocop skins allowing fans to fulfill their RvT fantasy a little more.
And reminding us what we never got.
This would have been a very expensive project to undertake though. At the time it would have been astronomical to make the SFX match the grandeur required. Cameron got busy making Titanic and moved on to finally make his Avatar movie afterwards. Both were box office sensations but fans knew what they really wanted.
Instead of getting this epic crossover, we all know what happened. We were given Terminator 3 and Salvation and then two really fucking awful reboot attempts. Robocop was given a remake and it went tits up too.
Could they still make the movie? I suppose it could happen. It’s tough now because Dark Horse comics is now dead since the Mouse consumed Fox Studio. And Dark Horse published the RvT comics so how would that work now? All the same I’d like to see James Cameron get a bee in his crotch and decide the time was right to make this fantasy project come true.
Or, and don’t hate me, someone like Zack Snyder direct it and go balls to the wall nuts with it. Take the comic book and bring it to life. Maybe fans should take to Twitter and ready the hashtags. Fan power has made the impossible happen before.
In the meantime fans like me have NECA to thank for the amazing figures they’ve released. We can at least set our Robocop and Terminator on the shelf where the two will be forever locked in the battle we know in our hearts we still deserve to see.
It’s not uncommon for franchisees to lose their way from the initial lore that made them legendary in the first place. Sometimes a filmmaker is just lucky and catches lightning in a bottle. If he manages to catch it again with a follow-up movie then he’s just a legend at that point.
Sometimes it’s just not possible to capitalize on the success of an original concept. And any attempts to do so fall by the wayside.
Case in point ask any horror fan which is the best Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie and they’ll point back to Tobe Hooper’s very first film. To my knowledge there have been 7 movies to follow TCM and, though, admittedly, some are fun to watch and entertaining, none of them come close to the original’s raw style and horrific grit.
It’s not easy to build upon success like that without just (exhaustively) repeating the formula rather than adding to it, allowing it to grow without it getting weird.
It’s also not uncommon for fans to find and latch onto mediums – outside of movies – as true successors to the legends they grew up loving.
One more example before moving on – HELLRAISER.
Hellraiser has suffered through enough sequels. Many of them were never intended to be Hellraiser films in the first place, but in order to keep the franchise’s license – and, not to mention, for the studio to sell really shitty horror movies – they shamelessly slapped the infamous Hellraiser title and a Roman numeral at the end of it to inferior projects and put Doug Bradley back in the makeup to appear as Pinhead in one or two scenes.
Most Clive Barker fans know these aren’t true Hellraiser films. They don’t match the lore Barker established.
But then in 2011, BOOM comics released Clive Barker’s Hellraiser that followed the story of little Kirsty Cotton as she seeks out to complete her hellish journey with the Lament Configuration and the insidious Order of the Gash. This comic book run is sensational and a must-read for fans of the first two films. Much like how Halloween (2018) works for Laurie Strode these comics work for Kirsty and goes into some amazing and unexpected places but feel so genuine and authentic that many fans – myself included – consider these to be the lost sequel we all deserved.
The comics are so well done that even Clive Barker himself calls them the true Hellraiser III.
Sometimes we find better continuity outside of the films.
In today’s case, it’s in a video game.
Released back in 2019, Terminator Resistance sadly passed under the radar and was not well-liked by critics. But slowly it’s been finding a rampant fan base of late, and, like the nuclear flood of Judgment Day, I’ve been swept up in the pure metal and might this game has to offer.
There have been some noteworthy Terminator games in the past. Pretty sure some of your guys fed plenty of quarters to that beloved Terminator 2 arcade cabinet. How could we not play that thing for hours? Our first mission was set in the dystopian warscape where man fights machines to the death.
Damn that was cool! That’s the thing that I always remember most from that game. But to be fair, Terminator, though built for great games, doesn’t have the best record for good games. I think that could be why TR passed by all of our notice.
And if it weren’t for me being such a fan of Civvie 11 over on YouTube I may have never played this game and missed out. Civvie gave it a good review and I immediately went out to get it. And right now it’s available on Steam, Xbox, and PSN. For $40 it’s not a bad way to spend your weekend.
Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way and answer the most important question. Is the game good? Yes. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but holy shit it is very good. It’s a shame it wasn’t given a bigger budget or more time to work out a few animation bugs or included a more open world base to walk around in. These are minor gripes, and at times it feels like it’s a Terminator game set in Fallout. I swear I kept getting Skyrim vibes while playing it though.
What makes this game great though is the intense nostalgic morphine jolt you’ll get pumping down your retro feels while playing this game. This is a project built upon love and admiration for the first two Terminator movies.
The game menu starts playing the classic Terminator theme, and yeah, ok, that feels good. But soon as you choose to start playing you are thrown directly into the nightmare scape of that violent new world where machine armies cross abandoned cities to terminate all human existence. You are part of the resistance and fight for John Connor!
Music from the original movie will start playing as you duck away and hide from T-800 troops marching sardonically through the night. It looks just like how Cameron filmed the war scenes too. I had moments when I forgot I was playing a game and felt like I was part of the movies.
Yes, I said you have to hide from T-800 soldiers because, like in the movies, you start off with weapons that are not able to take one down. You are really up against an army of Terminators and your choices have consequences.
And your choices do have consequences. In your fight for the future, you can build friendships and later be responsible for their deaths or survival.
Game mechanics include crafting your own weapons, skill learning that will make you a master lock picker and/or give you the ability to remove proximity mines and then use them against the metal assholes wanting to kill you. I can’t deny how satisfying it is to set a trap and see a T-800 walk right into one of my mines and KABOOM!!!!
But you gotta be picky over which skills you want to build up first.
You can also hack turrets for some unexpected little WTF moments. Early in the game, I hacked one and it ended up taking own an HK Aerial while I was off doing my thing. I watched it shoot down one of those things and it crashes to pieces! Then I got to go loot the fuck out of its wreckage,
Who’s a good little turret? Yes, that’s right. You are.
You start off with your basic bullet-based weapons that can take down smaller machines. And you do get a pretty sweet shotgun that gets things done nicely. As you advance you start to carry more sophisticated weapons like a plasma rifle. But then you get some of the biggest and baddassiest weapons like the purple glowing plasma weapons seen in the movies.
You’ll be tasked with taking down an HK Tank and a few of those flying Hunter Killers too. Pipe grenades come in handy in a clutch and you’ll even face off against the Infiltrator, the Arnold character Kyle Reese sees in a nightmare in the first movie, the one who invades the bunker.
And that’s where this game really outdoes itself and excelled over my expectations. From the music, the lighting, the sound effects, and the overall look of everywhere you go and everything you fight. It’s all rooted in the Terminator’s lore and makes you feel entirely swallowed up in the future world Cameron introduced us to.
Story-wise you are the one who gets ahold of the CPU chip making it possible to reprogram a T-800 unit to serve as protector…you feeling T2 yet? And I couldn’t contain my stupid glee when I spoke with John Connor for the first time. But then, towards the finale of the game, you actually meet the man himself. And guess what? It’s the real Jon Connor! The guy we see at the beginning of T2 Judgment Day.
Not stupid Nick Stahl or that other moron idiot fuck from Genysis. We stand before the real Connor,
You join the fight on the frontline and punch a hole straight into the fields outside Skynet’s HQ. Gotta say standing in front of that damned pyramid felt intimidating.
Yes, time travel elements are used in the story, just like a good Terminator plot should have, but is not the main drive. At no point do you get tossed back into the ‘80s or ‘90s. You start in the war and stay there for the whole game.
And because of that, and thanks to the perfect atmosphere, music, and story it really does play as the conclusion to the first two films we didn’t realize we needed. I think deep down every fan wanted a movie based on the future war. One that would lead up to Kyle Reese being sent back in time, one that would involve the hijacking or a Terminator CPU and the T-800 protector. All of that is in this game.
SPOILERS! The game ends with you standing with John Connor at the TDP, or ‘time machine’ if you will. Kyle has already been sent through and so has the T-800. So you end at the beginning of the events of Terminator 1 and 2, tying the knot and making you feel 100% complete lore-wise.
I’m not joking You could finish this game and then watch the first two movies back to back and feel nostalgic seamlessness.
And expect a buttload of Easter Eggs. In one mission you have to invade a medical facility where Skynet is doing some bad experiments on people. You walk into one room with a dead human subject left in the chair. And it looks exactly like Robert Patrick…the fucking T-1000!
It left me feeling dazed and awed. Like what the hell were they doing in here? Is this man THE roots of the T-1000? Their model for the next stage of Terminators? The game has moments like that everywhere though!
As a fan, I’m very satisfied with it. I’m playing through again hoping to see anything else I may have missed. If you’re a fan of the Terminator and a gamer you won’t want to miss out on this. For many of us, this is the truest sequel to Cameron’s immortal lore.
In closing this really does feel like the true successor to T2, what T3 should have been. A story set in the future and that leads up to the time-traveling events of the first couple movies. A completed trilogy set in past, present, and the future. This game is a huge accomplishment and compliments the lore beautifully.